Saturday, March 19th 2011, 3:39 AM EDT
The "Climategate" saga still rumbles on.
The British House of Commons science and technology committee in January published the final conclusions of its inquiry into the controversy surrounding emails hacked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, but one of its members appears determined to carry on with his campaign against the researchers.
Graham Stringer, the Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton, has just written an article for a Manchester website in which he attacks the integrity of CRU by drawing parallels with Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced researcher who started the MMR scare. Stringer also claims that "we now know that the work done at Climatic Research Unit barely qualified as science; they kept it secret to stop other scientists checking it".
This, of course, is nonsense. The work of CRU has been under incredible scrutiny since the emails were first posted on the web in late November 2009, and self-proclaimed "sceptics" began to make all sorts of unsubstantiated allegations of scientific fraud and manipulation. But five separate independent inquiries failed to find any evidence to support the claims of serious wrongdoing.
The investigation led by Lord Oxburgh into the integrity of the research published by CRU concluded:
This finding was to be expected as the academic papers produced by CRU researchers have been routinely subjected to scrutiny by other scientists through the usual peer review processes operated by journals.
And the House of Commons science and technology committee, of which Stringer is a member, did not uphold any of the numerous claims made by "sceptics" about the quality of the science, and insisted that it was time to "move on".
Stringer was apparently unhappy with the findings of the rest of the committee and attempted to insert his own version, noted on page 39 of the report in the minutes of a meeting. He wanted to include the statement: "We are now left after three investigations without a clear understanding of whether or not the CRU science is compromised." But he failed to gain the support of any of the other committee members.
Stringer's feelings about climate change were already evident during the committee's inquiry when he backed a "Climate Fool's Day" stunt in Parliament.
And now he is lining up with former chancellor Nigel Lawson and Benny Peiser, respectively chair and director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, to speak in favour of the motion "The global warming hysteria is over. Time for a return to sanity" put forward for debate by that enthusiastic promoter of climate change controversy, UK magazine The Spectator.
Stringer's campaign against CRU undermines the climate research community as a whole, at a time when it is attempting to regain the confidence of the public.
Stringer attempts to justify his actions on the grounds that "there are proposals to increase worldwide taxation by up to a trillion dollars on the basis of climate science predictions". But he appears to forget both that CRU researchers have been investigating past and current, not future, changes in climate, and further that the best economic analysis shows the costs of dealing with the impacts of unmitigated rises in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases would be far greater than cost-effective measures to reduce emissions.
Perhaps Stringer should remember that, as US senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once observed, everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.
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